Attention California Employers: New Laws Regarding Parental Leave and Prior Salary Inquiries

December 2017

In October 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill No. 168 and Senate Bill 63, both of which will affect California employers beginning in 2018. Assembly Bill 168 bans inquiries into the salary history of prospective applications. Senate Bill 63 requires California employers with 20-49 employees within a 75 mile radius to provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave to new parents. 

Assembly Bill No. 168

California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill No. 168 into law on October 12, 2017. The law prohibits employers from relying on the salary history of an applicant in determining whether to offer employment, and if so, at what salary. To achieve its objective, the law prohibits employers from requesting information relating to applicants’ prior salaries or benefits. However, the law allows employers to consider such information when an applicant discloses the information voluntarily and without prompting from the prospective employer. Violation of the law constitutes a misdemeanor. This law builds on legislation passed in September 2016, which excluded compensation history as justification for compensation disparities between employees of different sexes performing substantially similar work. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2018. California employers should review their current application materials and interview practices to ensure conformity with the new law.

Senate Bill 63

Also on October 12, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 63, the “New Parent Leave Act,” (Act) which provides that employers with between 20 and 49 employees within a 75 mile radius must provide their employees with parental leave. Specifically, employees can take up to 12 weeks of parental leave within one year of a child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. Such leave does not need to be compensated. Prior to the Act, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provided family leave rights only for those employed by an employer with 50 or more employees within the same geographical radius. The Act now extends unpaid leave rights to those employed by small/mid-size employers. Employees’ rights under the Act do not become available until an employee has worked 12 months with the same employer and has logged at least 1,250 hours over such 12 month period, like the FMLA. The Act goes into effect on January 1, 2018. California employers with between 20 and 49 employees should review their current parental leave policies to ensure conformity with the Act.